The First Meeting of the Food and Agriculture Organisation's (FAO) Sub-regional Office for West Africa (SFW) and Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) opened in Accra on Monday to draw a blue print for activities in 2008.
The four-day meeting would also discuss the nature and type of support expected to assist the FAO carry out its duties and responsibilities.
It was a combination of Sub-regional Management Team composed of the Sub-Regional Coordinator and the FAO Representatives from 15 ECOWAS member countries on the one hand, and the Multidisciplinary Team composed of both the Management Team and Sub-regional Technical Officers on the other hand.
Mr. Edouard K. Tapsoba, Sub-regional Coordinator for West Africa, said the objective for the dual meeting was for both the FAO Representatives and the Technical Officers to come out with a framework for a programme of work that would respond as effectively and efficiently as possible to the technical assistance needs of the Sub-region as a whole and of individual countries as well.
"We would also discuss the working relationships between Headquarters services and the decentralised structures, that is, Country and Sub-regional Offices and also between Country Offices and the Sub-regional Office," he said.
The Coordinator said though a lot had already been done, there were still a number of grey areas that needed to be clarified and "we will do so bearing in mind that there is only one FAO".
The SFW, which was established in 2006 following the successful negotiations and signing of an agreement between FAO and the Government of Ghana had become operational in 2007 serving as FAO's focal point for addressing sub-regional food security, agriculture and rural development issues and maintaining relations with sub-regional institutions.
It aimed at supporting the development and implementation of FAO's strategies, policies and its programme of work in West Africa.
Mr. Tapsoba commended the government for accepting to host the meeting and also making available to the office both material and financial resources.
"This is a clear illustration of Ghana's conviction of the importance of the role of FAO in the world," he said.
Mr. Mohamed Mahmoud Ben Labat, Ambassador of the Republic of Mali, said it was clear that the choice of the Africa Region as a first step of the decentralisation, within the overall framework of the reform process of the Organisation, had not been made on a random basis, but rather because it was the region that certainly needed FAO technical support the most.
"We are convinced that with the critical mass of FAO technical experts in various disciplines from both the regional and the Sub-regional Offices in Accra, we in West Africa, stand to benefit substantially from the proximity of such expertise," he said.
Mrs. Gladys Asmah, Minister of Fisheries, said African Governments had received the creation of the SFW, along with four other similar offices throughout Africa as a welcomed development.